'Party Down' - 'Jackal Onassis Backstage Party' Recap (Season Premiere)
by Chris Harnick, posted Apr 23rd 2010 10:30PM
(S2E01) Lydia: "Me and Escapade left him back in Wapato." Casey: "Escapade? That's your ... car?" Lydia: "My daughter, the future star."
It's hard watching 'Party Down' knowing that this show will likely not be back for a third season. But, set aside all the casting news -- virtually all of the cast is committed to new pilots and series star Adam Scott is going to 'Parks and Recreation' -- and 'Party Down' is just as enjoyable as it was last season. The writing remains sharp and quick, while the sardonic wit that makes this show so special continues to flourish.
The season 2 premiere finds the caterers backstage at a concert of the fictional rocker Jackal Onassis (Jimmi Simpson). Henry (Adam Scott) has been promoted to team leader and Ron (Ken Marino) is no longer with the team, but runs into them at the concert. Kyle (Ryan Hansen) and Roman (Martin Starr) are still there, not finding much success in their careers yet.Seeing Henry as the leader is quite a role reversal, but it works. He was the bad boy last season and this season he has to reel in the mischief of others, letting viewers see the actor create almost a whole new character. In the opening scene, Henry reprimands a character for behaving like he did all last season.
After Jane Lynch was called back to do 'Glee' at the end of last season -- she's much more entertaining as Sue Sylvester -- Megan Mullally was added to be the breath of fresh air in this world of mean, somewhat bitter people. Mullally plays Lydia, a recently divorced stage mom chasing the Hollywood dream on behalf of her daughter. She integrates with the cast seamlessly. The new season starts with her already part of the team, so her introduction is only necessary to viewers and the returning Casey (Lizzy Caplan). Lydia is the sort of character that everybody has a version of in their lives. She's like your friend's mom back when you were in high school, or the goofy aunt you see at family reunions. Lydia is entirely too optimistic and always ready for a hug -- perfect for this misfit group of caterers.
Watching Lydia and Casey interact is a treat. Lydia matches Casey's sarcasm with endearing cluelessness. For example, after Lydia learns Casey is a comedian she gasps and says, "Like Whoopi Goldberg? ... Ed, my ex, hates Whoopi Goldberg. He said that women shouldn't do comedy because they're not naturally funny ... and he has issues with blacks, so why he would have an affair with one, that, that is a question for a psychologist." If Mullally and Caplan prove one thing this season, it's that women are naturally funny, sometimes more than men.
When we last saw Casey she was leaving to do a gig on a cruise ship, but now she and her ever-present cell phone are back to bring out Henry's wild side and possibly infringe on his relationship with Uda (Kristen Bell).
On his quest for women, Roman switches places with Jackal Onassis, but not before criticizing the rocker's message: "Born out of Satan's anus. Jeeze, that's stupid. Satan is a fallen angel, he can't poo, he doesn't have an anus." This plot gets a little tedious, but it does produce some good character moments. Most of the joy of 'Party Down' is watching the actors interact with each other and the guest stars, it's always a perfect blend of awkward with a mean streak. Jackal becomes Dennis in an effort to experience "real people."
When Ron shows up we learn that his Soup 'R Crackers franchise failed, a victim of the bad economy. But, this Ron is not like last season's Ron. He's partying, he's dating a much younger girl and he is aimless, something that will continue, along with the tension between Casey and Henry.